FASTPASS plus is a revolutionary new system designed by Disney. In the past year, Disney has gone from the old Fastpass system that included paper tickets, to this new system that includes Magic Bands and online Fastpass booking using the My Disney Experience app. There are many people who are very frustrated with the new system. Let’s put the advantage squarely in your court by giving you some fastpass tips that will help you avoid lines and stay ahead of the crowd.
In short, the Fastpass Plus system works like this: Each day, you receive 3 Fastpasses to use in ONE park. But the good news is that you can book these fastpasses up to 60 days ahead of time. No longer will you need to run around the park using the fastpass machine. You can do this ahead of time on the app, or do it in real-time on your smart phone. They also have kiosks that you can use in the theme parks, if you don’t happen to have a smart phone. Please note that the technical details of HOW to book fastpasses and use the app are covered in our article on How to Make Fastpass Plus Reservations.
Now we are going to show you how to combine your Fastpass Plus Reservations with our earlier tips on getting there early, and give you a headstart on the competition.
When to Book Fastpass Plus Times
When you are deciding your Fastpass times, much will depend on your plan for the day. If you plan to be at a park all day long, your plan might be different than if you are going to park hop or leave a park early. We will break it down into a simple format that should be easy to understand.
FastPasses in the Morning:
Most parks are not busy in the morning, or at least not as busy as they are during the rest of the day. The first two hours that a park are open are great times to walk on rides. So this is a terrible time to book a fastpass reservation. We highly recommend that you DON’T do this. There are two exceptions:
1. You plan on leaving the parks early and don’t have park touring planned for the evening/night. If that’s the plan, than obviously you should use your fastpasses and not let them go to waste.
2. Disney has just recently (in early April 2014) announced that they will soon allow more than 3 Fastpasses a day. But this change will come with a BIG caveat. You can only get a 4th/5th/6th fastpass if you have already used your first three! This will completely change our perspective on when to book fastpasses. BUT it will only be valid if you plan to be in one park for the entire day and if you have chosen not to use a fastpass for nighttime festivities. When this new change is put in place, we will be testing, receiving feedback and letting our readers know the best way to implement this change. But we do think it is a GREAT move by Disney.
Fastpasses in the Midday/Evening
The 12pm=6pm time period is traditionally the busiest at most parks. It’s hot, crowded and there are long lines. What we’d like to see you do is to book your fastpasses during this time. In a perfect world, you will get there early and do a large portion of your touring before lunch. Then after lunch, you will schedule your fastpasses for some of the busy attractions and use those fastpasses during the time periods with the busiest waits.
Fastpasses at Night
The nighttime is a decent time to book a fastpass reservation, but it depends on the park and the park hours. Anytime after 10pm is a poor choice, as stand-by times will be low. Also, you want to check the parade and firework schedules as well. Booking a fastpass during a major nighttime parade is a waste, because stand-by times drop significantly during the parade and fireworks. The same thing happens with Illuminations at Epcot and Fantasia at Hollywood Studios.
Best Fastpasses by Park
We will expand on this in future articles, but for now we will briefly give you some basic fastpass tips for each park.
Currently, the Magic Kingdom does not have a tiering system. This means you can choose any ride. The problem with giving advice on the MK is that much depends on what you want to do. There are so many different activities to choose from. Meet and greets are very busy and a fastpass can save a ton of time. Many of them stay busy from morning until night, so a fastpass is a great choice. But you do have to understand that Meet and Greet fastpasses are a little slower than traditional fastpasses, as meet and greets move slowly due to pictures, small children, etc.
It’s also encouraged to use Fastpasses for popular rides such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan and the Mine Train. These rides carry long waits, and we recommend using a FP on them from 12pm-8pm.
Our favorite fastpass to use in all of Disney World is the fastpass to see Disney’s Electrical Parade. You get a spot right out in front of the castle, your kids can see everything, and you aren’t crowded, as they don’t allow a large number of people in. It’s an amazing fastpass!
Epcot currently has a horrible fastpass system. It’s a tiered system. You basically can choose Soarin’, Test Track or Maelstrom, as all three of these are in the first tier. Once you have used your first-tier fastpass, there are not a lot of good rides left. Being forced to use a Fastpass for Nemo or Spaceship Earth is not a productive way to use Fastpasses. Whether this is a flaw of the tiering system or just a result of Epcot having a lower number of high-end attractions is unknown. But we try to avoid using our Fastpasses at Epcot if we can.
Like Epcot, Hollywood Studios has a tiering system. Fortunately there are some good choices in the 2nd tier. Tower of Terror and Star Tours are both good choices for the 2nd tier, and we highly recommend those, as they offer the greatest time-saving benefits (and are great rides too!). The upper tier is loaded with three great fastpasses: Toy Story Mania, Rock N Roller Coaster, and Fantasmic! Toy Story Mania in the early afternoon is our top recommendation. We also recommend getting there at rope drop, and riding Toy Story Mania first, as it’s a ride you will want to experience twice.
If you do plan on seeing Fantasmic, than a fastpass is a wise choice during the busy season. Otherwise, you could miss the show altogether, or get a terrible seat. If you have a large group or if you want to be down low close to the water, you’ll need to use a Fastpass to ensure your spot.
Animal Kingdom currently has no tiering and so Everest and Safari make the most sense. Kali River Rapids should only be chosen on hot summer days when it is most popular. The rest of the year, the stand-by line will be your best choice. The Festival of the Lion King, when it re-opens, will be another great selection as a great viewing location can get your kids involved in the show.
Animal Kingdom fastpasses should not be used in the 2 hours prior to closing. This park empties out quickly, and stand-by times become very low in the late evening for all attractions.
Hopefully these fastpass tips can help you to make the best use of your time at Disney!
Next, we are going to look at another key decision that you’ll make in your trip planning. Choosing which day to attend each park.
Let’s take a look at the next article in our series: Part 3: Disney Park Schedule
By: Ryan Shade